Yesterday it was good to see an article quoting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords staff, explaining the challenges Giffords has in front her, as well as the remarkable progress she has made. DNC Chairwoman, and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz seems to have her own story and evaluation of Giffords recovery.
Carusone, Giffords’ chief of staff, told me: “We want to give people a clear picture (about Giffords). It’s not in anyone’s interest to have anyone feel misled. But it’s hard because we satisfy one person and one set of questions, and tomorrow, we’re on to the next. The feeling is like it’s never enough.”
It won’t be. Not from now on. The inquiries will keep coming until the day Giffords decides if she will return to Congress.
Is she ready to do that?
Is she close?
I asked Giffords’ staff if they could explain, in terms that even a newspaper columnist could understand, exactly where Giffords stands.
For example, how well is she able to communicate with them?
“We do a lot of inferring with her because her communication skills have been impacted the most,” Carusone said. “If you think of it as someone who is able to communicate with you clearly, it is easy to test them. You can ask them a series of questions, and you can get clear answers back. Whereas with Gabby, what we’ve been able to infer and what we believe is that her comprehension is very good. I don’t know about percentage-wise or not, but it’s close to normal, if not normal.”
Does her struggle to communicate mean that she’s not using complete sentences?
“Exactly,” Carusone said. “She is borrowing upon other ways of communicating. Her words are back more and more now, but she’s still using facial expressions as a way to express. Pointing. Gesturing. Add it all together, and she’s able to express the basics of what she wants or needs. But, when it comes to a bigger and more complex thought that requires words, that’s where she’s had the trouble.”
Asked for a blunt assessment, now – five months after the shooting:
She’s living. She’s alive. But if she were to plateau today, and this was as far as she gets, it would not be nearly the quality of life she had before,” Carusone said. “There’s no comparison. All that we can hope for is that she won’t plateau today and that she’ll keep going and that when she does plateau, it will be at a place far away from here.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that she had a “wonderful conversation” on the telephone with Giffords on Wednesday.
Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, said Giffords spoke in full sentences and initiated some of conversation instead of just responding, as she had done in the recent past.
Very different from what Pia Carusone had to say.
The first story linked above is a good update on Congresswoman Giffords, the first I’ve seen of this kind. When asked the deadline for Giffords deciding to return to Congress or not, Caruson said the only timeline is May 2012, when petitions for re-election are due. She said Giffords is about half-way through her recovery process, but that she will be recovering for the “rest of her life.”
Still sending prayers for the Congresswoman for a complete recovery, as soon as possible. God bless this brave young woman and her family. Background: Rep. Giffords was shot in the head by Jared Loughner on January 8, 2011 as she attended a meeting with her constitutents in a Safeway parking lot in Tucson, Arizona. Seven people died that day, including a beloved staffer and friend, and and nineteen were injured.